Children's Court New South Wales

Youth justice conferencing and other diversionary options

Diversionary options 

In some circumstances, children and young people facing criminal charges in the Children's Court may be diverted from the usual court processes and referred to a program that provides intervention and rehabilitation or other assistance to address the underlying issues in their lives that may have contributed to the commission of the crime or crimes. 

Court diversion programs typically involve a judicial officer deferring a case while the child or young person participates in a rehabilitation program or other process to assist with his/her particular needs.

A young person can be diverted from the criminal justice system if they have a cognitive impairment or are suffering from a mental illness as set out under the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020

However, the diversionary program most commonly used in the Children‘s Court is a referral to a Youth Justice Conference.

Youth Justice Conferences 

The Children's Court may refer a child or young person for a youth justice conference under the Young Offenders Act 1997. This option is often available for offences that are comparatively less serious. Generally, the child or young person, their families or support persons, victims, police, and the child's lawyer are able to participate in the conference. 

One of the aims of the conference is for the participants to talk about the offence and the impact upon the victim. The young person must acknowledge and accept responsibility for their actions. During the conference it is hoped that all participants can agree to an outcome plan, which is intended to prevent future offending by the young person. An outcome plan might include things such as the young person apologising to the victim and/or, participation in a counselling or education program. 

The outcome plan is forwarded to the Children's Court where it is either accepted, rejected or returned for amendments. If the outcome plan is accepted by the court and the young person satisfactorily completes the requirements of the plan, no further action will be taken by the Children's Court. 

Where participants fail to agree on an outcome plan or the young person fails to complete the outcome plan, the matter is referred back to the Children's Court where the proceedings will continue.

Youth Justice Conferences are administered by Youth Justice.

Last updated:

08 May 2023

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